Instead of a dry, boring article, the following is an excerpt from a recent interview
with Attorney Leckerman on the subject.
Interviewer: I don’t see how it’s at all possible to say, “oh you’re under the influence of Xanax and Percocets, and not Percocets and Cocaine.” All these drugs have interactions. It seems like there’s no way without extensive blood testing and looking at all the chemicals and levels that you’ve even have a hope of saying at all accurately this person is on X, Y, and Z versus A and B.
Kevin Leckerman: You’re absolutely right. Most scientists and scientific studies that I have talked to and read believe that the DRE program is voodoo science. Without intimate knowledge of a person’s particular drug use history, there’s no way to really know the person is under the influence. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some times when you can tell, and you don’t have to be a DRE, that a person is wasted from a particular drug.
Was the person’s ability to drive a car affected? They could’ve used a certain drug, even an illegal one, and certainly be able to drive a car safely. When you’re doing testing, the best way to determine how much of a drug and what the particular drug is in a person’s system is either through blood testing or urine testing. Both methods of testing will determine what type of drug may be in a person’s system and how much of it is there.
Now, that doesn’t necessarily show that the person is actually incapable of driving safely, but at least it gets prosecution in the ballpark of what the person may be under the influence of. Then, you still have to use an expert, such as the pharmacologist or possibly a toxicologist, who has the right education and experience, to then make a connection between the drug, the amount of the drug, the behavior that was exhibited, and whether or not all those factors can prove a person couldn’t drive a car safely.
Interviewer: If a person encounters a DRE, it sounds like they need an attorney that has studied and focuses on the science behind it all; someone that knows the right experts to call; someone that’s not afraid to call those experts, because they have the experience to know who can best support your client’s position. That’s what’s needed in order to be able to defend your case as best as possible.
Kevin Leckerman: I agree 100%. Many attorneys that I come across, will not bother to educate themselves about the science involved with blood or urine testing, and all the aspects of the DRE process. Even though I think the DRE process is junk, I still want to know absolutely everything that I can about it and try to expose it for being a pseudo-science. In order to expose the problems with the methods used by the government, you have to know the ins and outs of those methods.
Also, you don’t want to just send a case to an expert and simply trust what the expert is going to say. You want to understand what the problems may be in the case, then get the right expert involved. A lawyer should be in a position to evaluate whether the expert is giving a valid opinion or an opinion that can be discredited in court. Otherwise, you’re doing your client a disservice by just saying let’s get an expert involved when there may not be a reason for the expert. Additionally, when you go to court, and you are going to have the opportunity to cross examine the other side’s expert, a lawyer needs to understand every single thing the prosecutor and expert is going to be claiming on the stand. The lawyer must have an extremely good knowledge of the science, in order to refute what the expert is claiming.
Interviewer: Prosecutors can just as easily call a toxicologist and other medical experts to testify like you can, right?
Kevin Leckerman: Absolutely. Yet, the one thing that I think people should always keep in mind is, just because somebody is a so-called expert or a professional, it doesn’t mean that the expert is good at what he or she does. I’m sure there are plenty of times that you go to a doctor’s office and you just didn’t think that the advice you’re getting from the doctor is good advice, or the treatment you’re getting is helping you out. So you go to another doctor. The same should apply to any expert out there. Just because a person is a so-called expert, or the person has been doing that particular job for even 30 or 40 years, it doesn’t meant that the person is doing it right, or has the best knowledge of the scientific techniques or the current methods that can identify drugs in somebody’s system.